Qualifier at Dayton for a 12th straight year | NevadaAppeal.com

Qualifier at Dayton for a 12th straight year

It’s become one of the rites of fall in the area and once again some of the top golfers around will begin the process of achieving arguably the most difficult accomplishment in sports: Qualifying for the PGA Tour.

That process begins next week when the Dayton Valley Golf Club hosts the first stage of PGA qualifying for the 12th straight year. Every year since 1995, Dayton has hosted the first stage of qualifying. It’s the longest current streak of any course to host the first stage.

The four-round tournament will be held Oct. 24-27, with each round set to begin at 9 a.m. Eighty-one players are scheduled to compete with roughly the top 25-30 players moving on to the second stage of qualifying.

There will be 11 first stage qualifiers held over the next two weeks. The top players from those events will move on to six second stage qualifiers to be held next month.

The top players from those events will advance to the PGA Qualifying School to be held Nov. 29-Dec. 4 at the PGA West Stadium course in La Quinta, Calif. The top 30 players plus ties receive a permanent spot on the 2007 PGA Tour. Virtually all of the players who advance to the qualifying school earn a place to play at least some Nationwide Tour events and some PGA tournaments as well.

Actually the process has already begun as the PGA began a new process were able to play in four different prequalifiers to qualify for the first stage. There were 317 players entered in the prequalifiers with 176 advancing to the first stage.

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“It’s the toughest tournament in the world no matter what,” said Golf the High Sierra communications director Larry Windsor, who’s doing media relations for next week’s qualifier, on how tough it is to make the PGA Tour.

Among the more familiar players scheduled to compete are former Galena and UNLV star Travis Whisman and former University of Nevada star Carlos Concha. Among others entered are Spencer Levine of Elk Grove, Calif., who made a run at the U.S. Open title a couple of years ago as an amateur, and Eric Meeks of Las Vegas, who advanced to the U.S. Amateur semifinals a couple of years ago.

While it’s a two-edged sword – no player ever wants to return to the first stage – the Dayton course has been popular and there will be many golfers next week who have competed at Dayton several times.

One golfer, Warren Schutte of South Africa who played at UNLV, is scheduled to make his 12th straight trip to Dayton.

Under the direction of such people as head pro Rick Vaughn, the course has held its own over the years. When the first qualifier was held, a score of about even-par was needed to move on. Last year, a score of 8-under-par was needed.

“There’s no doubt about it,” said Windsor about the players improving. “Golf is more competitive at every level and the guys are better. The guys are more physically fit. They are good.”

Another factor of how low the scores will be will obviously be the weather. Conditions in the past have ranged from pristine to brutal and the scores have gone likewise.

A major reason why Dayton hosts the qualifier is it’s a fair course, a shot makers course in which the most consistent golfers move on.

“There’s absolutely no changes,” Windsor said about the course. “It is in magnificent shape. The greens are perfect.”

GOLF THE HIGH SIERRA

Dayton is just one of many courses in the Lake-Tahoe-Northern Nevada region that’s part of Golf the High Sierra, a local consortium of courses who have pulled together to promote golf in the area.

The consortium has been able to bring golf writers from across the country and the world. Just on Wednesday, a writer who lives in Brazil, who writes for worldgolf.com and travelgolf.com played at Arrow Creek. “We’ve done some far reaching stuff,” Windsor said.